The 1926 general strike: Workers' Liberty 3/4

The defeats we learn from

Published on: Fri, 30/06/2006 - 17:02

The British general strike of May 1926 was one of the great events in working-class history. Its consequences were felt far beyond Britain, in far-off Russia and by Communist Parties all over the world.

It was a great working-class defeat. It was an unnecessary defeat brought about by the treachery of the leaders of the British trade union movement.

The history of the bourgeoisie for hundreds of years past is the history of states in which they rule, deeds that some of them have successfully done, victories that they have won.

The history of the working class and of its parties is mainly the

The striker’s alphabet

Published on: Fri, 30/06/2006 - 17:01

(From the St Pancras Bulletin, May 5-10 1926)

A is for ALL, ALL OUT and ALL WIN,

And down with the blacklegs and scabs who stay in.

B is for Baldwin, the Bosses’ Strong Man,

But he’s welcome to dig all the coal that he can

C is for Courage the workers have shown,

Class Conscious and Confident that they’ll hold their own.

D is for DOPE that the Government spread—

Dishwash for Duncos and Dubbs—“nuff sed”.

E is for Energy that will carry us through,

Everyone class-conscious, steadfast and true.

F is for Fight, our fight to the end,

For we’re solid together, not an inch will we bend.

G

The story of the strike

Published on: Fri, 30/06/2006 - 16:53

By Stan Crooke

At the close of the nineteenth and opening of the twentieth centuries the international working class had added the weapon of the general strike to its arsenal in the war against capital. In the decades before the British General Strike, Belgium, Russia, Sweden and Germany had all experienced general strikes — Belgium more than once.

Drawing on the experience of such mass strikes, Trotsky wrote: “The general strike is one of the most acute forms of class war. It is one step from the general strike to armed insurrection… If carried through to the end, the general strike brings

The workers’ councils

Published on: Fri, 30/06/2006 - 16:51

At the time when the General Council issued its call to Trades Councils, these bodies, taken as a whole, were organisations accustomed to monthly delegate meetings, with fortnightly or monthly meetings of Executive Committees. Practically in all cases there were no paid officials, and some even of the most energetic Councils had no premises of their own. With one or two exceptions, no preparatory work of any kind had been undertaken before the call was issued. For all practical purposes, the Councils were organisations suddenly asked to take on a new and urgent task, without any but the

Workers’ defence

Published on: Fri, 30/06/2006 - 16:49

The problems facing the Councils of Action went much deeper than aid for arrested persons. The arrests themselves were in part based on political actions by the victims: as the reports show the members of the Communist Party were especially singled out for arrests under this heading. But the attack of the capitalist state machine was not confined to arrests of speakers or writers (or distributors) of “sedition.”

From the time when the fascist organisation* and the Organisation for the Maintenance of Supplies (OMS) came into existence, it became clear that the capitalist class was preparing a

Trotsky on the Anglo-Russian Committee

Published on: Fri, 30/06/2006 - 16:47

The disastrous experience with the Anglo-Russian Committee was based entirely upon effacing the independence of the British Communist Party. In order that the Soviet trade unions might maintain the bloc with the strike-breakers of the General Council (allegedly in the state interests of the USSR!) the British Communist Party had to be deprived of all independence. This was obtained by the actual dissolution of the party into the so-called “Minority Movement”, that is, a “left” opposition inside the trade unions.

The experience of the Anglo-Russian Committee was unfortunately the least

Communism and reformism

Published on: Fri, 30/06/2006 - 16:44

By John O’Mahony

After considerable discussion and at Lenin’s urging, the Second Congress of the Communist International (1920) came out for CP affiliation to the Labour Party.

“The Second Congress of the Third International should express itself in favour of Communist groups, or groups and organisations sympathising with Communism in England, affiliating to the Labour Party... For as long as this party permits the organisations affiliated to it to enjoy their present freedom of criticism and freedom of propaganda, agitational and organisational activity for the dictatorship of the

How the Communist Parties became “frontier guards of the USSR”

Published on: Fri, 30/06/2006 - 16:42

By Max Shachtman

The defeat of the September 1923 insurrection in Bulgaria and the October retreat in Germany, followed a few months later by the crushing of the Reval uprising in Esthonia, opened up a new period of development in Europe, replete with far-reaching consequences. The retreat in Germany gave the bourgeoisie the breathing space it sought and needed... In England, the MacDonald Labour government came into power for the first time. In France, the liberal Herriot ministry was established....

Among the terrific effects of the fatal German retreat, could already be discerned the

From “leftist impatience” to servility

Published on: Fri, 30/06/2006 - 16:38

The Third International After Lenin, a critique of Comintern policy which Leon Trotsky wrote in exile in Alma Alta in 1928, was addressed to the Sixth Congress of the Communist International.

In it he tells in outline the story of the share of the Communist International and the British Communist Party which obeyed the International’s instructions in the responsibility for the defeat of the British general strike. It is a model of how Marxists analyse a political situation.

The role of the trade union leaders in bringing working class defeat when victory was possible has many direct parallels

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